Hallowed be your Name
I am always caught off guard when Stella asked me a question about a phrase that I use, “Daddy, what does that mean.” I am then left to be able to explain this phrase. We sing the cattle are ‘lowing,’ but do we know what that means. Every time we pray the Lord’s prayer, we say, “Hallowed be your name.” However, do we know what this means? The word Hallowed does not come up in conversation in our house very often. Hallowed comes from a verb hallow, which is linked to a middle English word halowen, which in old English was hālig, Old English for “holy.” The most common link to this word now is Halloween, which is the day before All Saints Day. Saints is derived from the Latin ‘Sanctorum,’ which is from the Latin for holy, ‘Sanctus’. Confused? That’s is what happens when you look at where English words come from. Simply put, hallowed is the middle/old English word for holy.
The following brief comment is that the Lord’s prayer is often broken into six petitions (Sometimes seven, but we won’t get into that now.) This week we look at the first petition, we need to understand that this is not a statement but a prayer request. Maybe a better way to translate this would be “Let your name be kept holy” or “Let your name be treated with reverence.”
Why do we pray Hallowed be your name?
His Name is Worthy
We should be praying, and prayer to God should be a priority. God is worthy, and He should be our first priority. It is important that the Lord’s prayer begins with this petition and even the order of the six petitions. The first three petitions are focused on God, His Name, His kingdom, and His will. Beginning with God is not new, the Bible starts with “In the Beginning God…” (Gen 1:1). The ten commandments repeat this focus in the first table of the law, first to four commandments, focus on our duty towards God. The second table, five to ten, focus on our responsibility towards others. The greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. … You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Matthew 22:37–40. God should be the highest priority over all other people and things in our life. More significant than our family, friends, finances, and possessions. Prayer is the thermometer of the soul. Even studying and writing a sermon about prayer, I can be pulled to read more, study more, write more, refine it more, and prayer can become a non-priority. How foolish is this thought? How often is prayer a priority in our own lives? How often is prayer a last resort compared to our first order of the day? How often do our prays begin with a petition for God’s glory to be the center and focus? How often are our prayers about our bread, our debts, our needs compared to His name, His glory, His Kingdom, His honor, His reverence, His splendor, His majesty?
His Name is Personal
God is the creator of all things, and he has revealed himself through creation (Ps 19:1-6); this is called general revelation. God has revealed himself through special revelation, found in the Word of God (Ps 19:7-14). God has a name, and his name is personal. He is given many names throughout scripture, but when Moses asked him who sent him to Pharaoh, “God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” Exodus 3:14–15. We are known by our kin and family name. However, God has no kin, no person who made him. He is eternal. We say, David, son of Jesse. Who is the Holy Trinity, the son of? No one. When Moses asked God, his answer is, “I AM.” This is the covenantal name God gives, YWH. YWH is used over 4500 times in the Bible, translated in the English Bible as LORD, not Lord. His name is personal to his people. What is lost in the garden is found only in Christ. Christ is the name which every knee will bow (Phil 2:10-11). When we pray to God, we pray not to a distant being who created the universe. Still, we pray to the creator who voluntarily condescended to the world he created to redeem his people. When we pray hallowed be your name, we are praying that his name would be personal to us and others. We are praying that his name would be held in the esteem, which is due. As we bear his name, we should seek to point people to His Glory. We should pray like Jesus in John 12:28, “Father, glorify your name.” Let us continue in prayer as we pray that his name be known in our hearts, lives, church, community, county, country, continent, and world.
“Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give him glorious praise!” Psalm 66:1–2.
His name is Perfectly Holy
When we pray Hallowed be your name, we are praying that God’s name would be kept pure. Our prayer is not that God would be more holy because God is most holy (Ps 99). There has been a shift in modern theology/church life, which has seen a decrease if not the absence of the Holiness of God. A change from God is light, and in him, there is no darkness to God is love. A theology built on this true statement, God is love, plays love against all the other attributes of God. This does not interpret scripture with scripture (Cf. WCF 1.9). RC Sproul said, “The Failure of modern evangelicalism is the failure to understand the holiness of God.” David Wells said this another way, “The modern church wants therapy, not redemption, to be happy and not holy, to feel good not to be good and avoid the pain, not sin.” When Isaiah sees the Lord, he utters the words, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts” Isaiah 6:3.
The triple statement of holy shows the lack of words in trying to describe God. The repetitious phrase is the prophet’s best attempt to portray God. The standard for holiness is not your Sunday school teacher or preacher, but God. God, who has no darkness within. Unlike all of mankind who has the dark stains of sin in everything they say, think, or do. When we pray to him, we pray that we would understand this holiness. He is not like us. He is holy, most pure, most just, most merciful, gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth. Many warnings in scripture tell the people of God to honor God as Holy (Num 20:12; Is 8:12-13; Lev 10:3, 22:31-32). When meeting a remarkable person, we do so with respect and reverence. You do not approach the Queen of England and call her Lizzy. When we pray hallowed be thy name, we are praying that we and others would keep God’s name with the holiness and reverence that reflects who he is.
When we worship God, we do so with reverence, respect, adoration, praise, and honor of who God is. We come before a holy God and fall upon our knees. We come with our sin-stained hands and approach the throne only through the blood of Christ; we come only through Christ as our mediator savior and redeemer. We come to praise a holy God with unclean lips; we come to worship with a rotten heart. We come to enter the holy of holies only with our great high priest, Jesus Christ. We worship God by giving God the honor due his name. To hallow God’s name is to follow the third commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” Exodus 20:7. When we pray hallowed be your name, we also realize that God is holy but has also called to walk in this holiness as his people (1 Pet 1:15-16, Rev 15:4). Our actions should not profane his holy name. We should not be using profanities that are come from his name, Oh My G… or J.. C… or any combinations that derive from the same letters. God calls us saints, which comes from the same word as ‘Holy ones.’ When we pray hallowed be your name, we pray that we would also be holy as he is holy.